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Blister beetles and false blister beetles are medically important because they produce the chemical cantharidin that causes skin blistering.
People consuming 200 to 400 grams of Spanish-fly-laden frog thighs in one meal could risk death from cantharidin poisoning, he says.
This study further investigates a series of phytochemicals and their AhR agonist/antagonist activities; the compounds include the flavonoids chrysin, phloretin, kaempferol, galangin, naringenin, genistein, quercetin, myricetin, luteolin, baicalein, daidzein, apigenin, and diosmin, as well as cantharidin and emodin (in herbal extracts).
The compounds used in this study were purchased from Sigma-Aldrich (Milwaukee, WI) and include chrysin (purity > 97%), phloretin (> 95%), kaempferol (> 95%), galangin (95%), naringenin (95%), genistein (98%), quercetin (99%), myricetin (95%), cantharidin (98%), luteolin (> 90%), baicalein (98%), daidzein (> 95%), emodin (> 90%), apigenin (> 90%), and diosmin (95%).
DRE-dependent activation by 5 nM TCDD, flavonoids, cantharidin, and emodin.
Figure 1 illustrates structures of the 15 compounds used in this study; these include 12 flavonoids with different hydroxyl substitution patterns, plus the chemicals phloretin (a dihydrochalcone), cantharidin (a lactone), and emodin (an herbal laxative).
At concentrations of 1 or 10 [micro]M, only chrysin, cantharidin, baicalein, and emodin activated luciferase activity in MCF-7 cells (Figure 3).
The four compounds that activated luciferase activity in MCF-7 and HepG2 cells (chrysin, cantharidin, baicalein, and emodin) were also investigated as inducers of CYP1A1 protein in these cell lines (Figure 5).
Seduction might not even be the chemical's primary function in these bugs, suggest Meinwal, Thomas Eisner and their coworkers, noting that the toxic cantharidin deters predators from dining on beetles that have ingested it.
Only if she detects cantharidin does she readily agree to mate.
We now suspect cantharidin functions as a prenuptial offering," Meinwald says.